Lean on Pete: What You Need To Know
Willy Vlautin's award-winning novel 2010 novel Lean on Pete won plenty of admirers with its unvarnished depiction of American life and its story of a 15-year old boy on a trek across the country to find a long lost aunt, befriending a failed racehorse after being left to fend for himself by a frequently absent father.
A film adaptation of Vlautin's book was announced in 2015 and made its debut at last year's Venice Film Festival before arriving in cinemas in May. This week sees the film arriving in stores on DVD and Blu-ray, here's everything you need to know about it...
Who's in it?
All the Money in the World star Charlie Plummer leads a cast that includes Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny, Vikings star Travis Fimmel and The Killing's Amy Seimetz.
And who's directing?
Andrew Haigh is the man in the director's chair, working from a self-penned screenplay adapted from Vlautin's novel. Haigh's previous films include Weekend and the BAFTA-nominated 45 Years.
What's the plot?
The story centres around 15-year old Charley Thompson, a young man who has lived in many different locations thanks to his father, Ray (Fimmel), whose inability to hold down a job has seen them move house several times, making it hard for to Charley to settle and form lasting friendships. He has a keen interest in football, but the relentless moves to different schools hamper his ability to establish himself in a team.
When he and his father move to Portland, Oregon, Charley is determined to make a fresh start and finds himself a summer job at a stable owned by washed-up horse trainer Del (Buscemi). But Del's horses aren't quite the thoroughbreds you'd find at Ascot and the races themselves are often held on run down, makeshift tracks, where Del swindles himself a few dollars richer by doping his horses and running them into the ground before, as he euphemistically tells Charley, he “sends them to Mexico”.
While at the stables Charley befriends an ageing horse named Lean on Pete whose race-winning days seem to be mostly behind him, and Charley suspects that it won't be long before the horse meets a grisly fate. He is warned by a former jockey working at the stable named Bonnie (Sevigny) not to get too attached to the horses, but Charley doesn't pay too much attention.
Then one night Charley's fragile peace is shattered when an angry stranger bursts through the door of his home, attacking and hospitalising his father. Rattled and with nowhere else to stay, Charley decides to steal Del's truck – and the horse – before heading off towards Wyoming in search of an estranged aunt, in the vague hope of finding a stable family life, journeying across America's varied and often harsh landscapes.
Does it deliver?
In a very quiet and understated way, Haigh's film might well be the best coming-of-age story you'll see this year. From the nuanced and well-rounded characters to Magnus Jønck's stunning cinematography, Lean on Pete feels like a film where every minor detail has been considered without being over thought, and while every cast member delivers an excellent performance here, Charlie Plummer is truly outstanding throughout.